If you’re concerned about privacy, buying toys for your kids these days is serious business. Internet-connected smart toys are everywhere these days and they come with all kinds of cameras, microphones, and sensors.
Gadgets available in your local toy store and on Amazon.com have been found to be able to stealthily collect data about your child, including recording your little one’s voice, monitoring their whereabouts and sharing their location.
Be smart about connected toys: What you need to know
A new warning from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says that these smart toys can be hacked by criminals. The message comes months after several watchdog groups in Europe condemned popular smartwatches made for kids after privacy concerns were raised.
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The FTC suggests taking these three steps before you bring one of these gadgets home:
3 smart steps every parent should take before buying a smart toy
- Know how the toy works: If a doll has a camera embedded in its eye, for example, make it your business to know who can see it what it sees and where the data is being stored. “If you can’t find information on how a smart toy collects, shares, or secures your kids’ data, think about buying something else,” the FTC says.
- See if it’s been recalled or has other issues: Don’t leave it up to retailers to ensure your child doesn’t have access to a gadget with security issues. Look up any privacy problems or recalls that may exist. “Search online for the toy’s name, the company that makes it, plus the words ‘complaint,’ ‘security,’ and ‘privacy,'” the FTC says.
- Can you control it? Make sure there are parental controls or setting. Parents should be involved in the setup of any new electronic device that their child has.
Here are some popular internet-connected toys
This holiday season has plenty of internet-connected toys for sale. Here are some popular ones available on Amazon.com:
Cognitoys Dino Internet-Connected Smart Toy
Spider-Man by Sphero
Ask Amy 22
The Original Talking Hamster
YNCTE Smart Watch for Kids
We’re not saying the toys above are dangerous, but if any of them are on your kids’ wish list, be sure to follow the advice from the FTC above and check them out before you gift them!